Academy Expenses Scandal!

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AN INVESTIGATION into academy schools has revealed that huge sums of public money are being spent on expenses claims for academy bosses.

The investigation, which was undertaken by the Observer newspaper and Channel 4’s Dispatches programme, showed that public money is being claimed for luxury homes, fine dining and first-class travel.

The information was released under the Freedom of Information Act. Amongst the academy chain bosses the investigation names and shames are:

• Ian Cleland, Academy Transformation Trust chief executive already paid £180,000-a-year before expenses, who claimed £3,000 for insurance with his wife on a XJ Premium Luxury V6 Jaguar car, and servicing the car and changing the tyres, another £3,000 for first-class rail travel and over £1,000 at luxury restaurants. In March, Cleland called for £500,000 savings at ‘his’ 21 schools in the Midlands and east of England, and made staff reapply for their jobs.

• Maxine Evans, due to be appointed director at NET Academies trust, who spent £9,000 on taxis for travel between schools, including making the taxi drivers wait as she was inside the schools. l Paradigm Trust CEO Amanda Phillips, who gets expenses paid for her broadband in her holiday home in France though she earns £195,354 before expenses.

• Russell Quaglia, US-based co-founder of Aspirtions Academies Trust (AAT), who receives almost $50,000 for six visits to the UK every year. His fees for one day’s consultancy at a school go up to $18,000. Over half the 50 largest academy chains in the UK pay their bosses more than what the Prime Minister is paid (£143,000).

Daniel Moynihan of the Harris Foundation receives a huge £395,000 annual salary, whilst Stewart Kenning of AAT gets £225,000 and his wife another £175,000 for being executive principal of the 12 schools of the chain.

Commenting on the findings, shadow chancellor John McDonnell MP said: ‘The Tories have shown that when it comes to most people, they aren’t afraid to take in-work benefits or public services off us. But when it comes to the bosses of their failing academy programme, no expense is spared. In just five years the number of academies has grown from 600 to more than 5,000, while the regulator’s staffing numbers have collapsed.’

Head of education at Unison, Jon Richards, said the investigation revealed that the system was untenable: ‘There are huge amounts of public money being shovelled around in the schools system, and unless the Education Funding Agency ups its game, plenty of unscrupulous people out there will help themselves.’